Sunday, 29 March 2015
I have frequently compared Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization with other science fiction future histories. However, its Dominic Flandry sub-series can also be compared with other spy fiction. In the latter genre, my four authorities are Ian Fleming, John Le Carre and Fredrick Forsyth (for both, see here) and Stieg Larsson.
Correspondent Sean M Brooks found a prima facie contradiction in the Flandry series. See here. Although the Terran Empire had acquired intelligence about the telepathic abilities of the Merseian agent, Aycharaych, the top Terran agent Flandry was later completely taken aback to learn about these abilities from Aycharaych himself. The "earlier" novel, in which the Empire acquired this intelligence, was written later. Therefore, arguably, the "later" story should then have been rewritten to edit out Flandry's total surprise.
Sean later came up with a solution: Terran Intelligence was so obsessed with secrecy and in particular with preventing the Merseians from finding out what they knew that they even prevented their own field operatives from knowing it!
Larsson shows us one section of Swedish Intelligence concealing itself from all others. The SIS Section for Special Analysis (SSA):
has a handful of members and a budget so small that it seems to cover only some routine matter;
conceals its offices on one entire floor of a residential block nowhere near SIS HQ and even conceals its very existence from the current chief of SIS;
has some agents covertly working in the SIS outer office unknown to each other;
uses unauthorized surveillance and phone taps to spy on all SIS personnel, however high in the organization;
tried unsuccessfully to prove that a Social Democratic Prime Minister was a KGB agent;
also spent years investigating other Social Democratic politicians;
contributed to forming and funding the "Democratic Alliance" organization described by its critics as extremely right-wing;
employs three members of this organization and recruited a fourth through it;
employs this recruit to reinforce SSA investigation of foreign citizens as against Immigration Division;
answers only to the assistant chief of the Secretariat of the Security Police, an individual who has been on the SSA staff for ten years;
handles a Russian defector and covers up his criminal activities, silencing one of his victims by getting a psychiatrist to diagnose her as insane.
It is to be hoped that Terran Intelligence is free from such practices!